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City deemed waste reduction initiative waste of time

James Gordon proposed the Zero Waste Challenge to city council on Dec.18 and was refused funding.
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The coordinators for Bike to Work Week are hoping a good idea won't go to waste after council rejected their funding request for a waste management intiative.

James Gordon and Marcia Dick presented the idea last week. The proposed free community event, called the Zero Waste Challenge, would span across the month of October in 2013. The challenge would begin with two weeks of baseline data collection, followed by a consultation by Gordon and Dick, and the implementation of a waste management plan for the remaining two weeks.

"The City of Kamloops would be the main beneficiary. It seemed logical to us to first ask them for funding," Gordon said.

In the proposal, the two explained household waste would be weighed on a scale and residents with the most significant waste reduction would win the challenge and a prize.

Gordon and Dick are paid coordinators for Bike to Work Week as becoming business partners in a new environmental consulting company. Gordon said in his presentation to council that the initiative has spread throughout North America and is intended to engage residents.

A pilot project was held in 2011 with 17 homes, however only six completed the challenge. While Gordon said some participants didn't like weighing their waste, he remained optimistic about those who completed the challenge.

"At the end of the first challenge there was a reduction on average of 67%," he said, adding they received positive feedback.

He said the challenge would alleviate costs to the City as well as create environmental conscientiousness.

"We think the end result of this challenge will be a significant waste reduction by those involved," Gordon said.

While he noted it's not the answer to environmental sustainability, he says it's another step in the right direction.

They requested $8,500 in funding for the two coordinators, promotions and prizes for the challenge but were denied by council.

Councillors Ken Christian, Arjun Singh and Donovan Cavers were defeated after voting to fund the initiative with $6,250 for the coordinators as well as providing in kind help with advertising and prizes. Councillor Nancy Bepple said the City hasn't paid for similar events, including Bike to Work Week.

"This changes the ground rules, not only for this group but for future groups as well," she said.

Dever wanted more information.

"There's nothing here that gives us any type of strategy how they're going to go from 17 to 100 households," she said. "I'm not comfortable with this."

Mayor Peter Milobar was happy with the City's current initiatives.

Gordon said that he and Dick don't know how what they will do next or whether the challenge will go on but they will hold discussions about it in the New Year.

"We did it as a volunteer initiative once," he said. "We've got to make a living."

— Jessica Wallace


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